What We Do and Why We Do It

1 | B4C conducts qualitative and quantitative research to explore the impacts of mind-body wellness practices in education.

Breathe For Change’s curriculum and programs are based on the powerful impacts of mindfulness and yoga practices in education, demonstrated through qualitative and quantitative research. Throughout academic literature, mindfulness practices are seen to promote psychological well-being, reduce stress, increase awareness of the body and mind, and promote emotional flexibility.6 Through mindfulness practices, individuals heighten their self- awareness thereby decreasing “reactive emotional patterns and increase self-control.”7 Latest work by John Denninger, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, shows how "mind-body techniques can switch on and off some genes linked to stress and immune function.”8 Though not as widespread, there has been an increase is conducting similar research in schools.9 One such study found a 15% increase in math scores of fourth and fifth graders who did mindfulness exercises compared to their peers.10

In addition to these findings, educators themselves echo the benefits of and need for mind-body techniques in classrooms. For her dissertation, Ilana followed eight pre-service teachers she previously taught in University of Wisconsin’s teacher education program into diverse pre-k through 5th grade classrooms in cities throughout the world including Chicago, Madison, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Oakland, St. Paul, and Copan, Honduras. Their experiences and insights shed light on the critical need for increased social-emotional supports for teachers and students, particularly those in under-resourced communities, and inspired the creation of Breathe For Change.


2 | B4C’s curriculum integrates mind-body wellness practices into teaching and learning.

Many mindfulness and yoga teacher trainings exist, but few focus their curriculum in the education field. By utilizing a curriculum created by educators for educators, Breathe For Change creates a unique opportunity for mind-body practices and yoga to be brought into classrooms around the world. The training will introduce these practices to educators, suggest means for integrating them into their classroom, discuss specific application in terms of students and classroom environment, and support teachers post-training in allowing this shift to move from their schools to their communities. In addition to the standard yoga training sessions required for certification, participants in our program engage in collaborative planning time with teachers in similar grade levels and subject areas to translate B4C course content into practice.


3 | B4C strives to make our trainings accessible and affordable for educators.

According to several sources, the average cost of 200-hour yoga trainings is around $3,000, though recently there has been an overall increase in prices.11,12 By surveying four studios that offer 200-hour teacher training in Madison WI, Breathe For Change found the average cost was $3400. For many educators, this is prohibitively expensive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for elementary school teachers was $53,400 in 2012 and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,630.13 The median annual salary for high school teachers was $55,360 in 2013 and the bottom 10 percent made $37,230.14 For many, budgeting for a wellness and yoga teacher training is difficult, especially if they do not intend to teach in studios or gyms thereby recouping their expense. To corroborate this assumption, Breathe For Change surveyed several incoming trainees for the 2015 program. In addition to the trainees’ interest in the unique curriculum, many of these educators indicated their ability to participate due to the significantly lower cost of $1,995 after need-based scholarship. Breathe For Change applicants who need additional financial assistance have the option to apply for our needs-based scholarship. We also offer Continuing Education Units to educators who complete our course, which often corresponds with increases in salary, further supporting educator sustainability and capacity to afford these life-changing programs.


4 | B4C does action research with educators to ensure our programs have positive impact.

Though there has been a recent increase in mindfulness based research in schools, Breathe For Change has acknowledged a current gap in academic literature. Many studies evaluate the effects of these practices on students by analyzing changes in test scores, emotional well-being, or behavior patterns - but few measure the impact of these practices on teachers. Breathe For Change conducts action research studies with Wellness Champions - which involve surveys, monthly reflections, community calls, and interviews - to gain perspective on the impact of well-being for educators on teaching and learning. Our research results contribute to the knowledge base of the broader academic community, as well as provide a feedback mechanism for us to improve B4C trainings.15


5 | B4C provides ongoing support and mentorship to ensure our impact extends beyond the trainings and into the school community. 

Unlike many teacher training programs, Breathe For Change provides ongoing support for graduated educators to sustain their own well-being and bring the benefits to their classrooms and schools. Our school-wide programs provide hands-on support for school transformation, and offer opportunities for our experts to support graduates and other teachers through classroom modeling and all-staff professional development workshops. Our cohort conference calls and in-person events provide invaluable space for grads to share what is and isn’t working with one another, and to have a community of support throughout the school year. In addition, we have created a Breathe For Change App to share ongoing content, curriculum, and provide space for resource-exchange so that our graduates are always in connection with one another and with our expert trainers.

Sources

1 | Lazar, S. W. (2005). Mindfulness research. Mindfulness and psychotherapy, 220-238.

2 | Flook, L., Smalley, S. L., Kitil, M. J., Galla, B. M., Kaiser-Greenland, S., Locke, J., Kasari, C. (2010). Effects of Mindful Awareness Practices on Executive Functions in Elementary School Children. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 26(1), 70–95. 

3 | Flook, L., Goldberg, S. B., Pinger, L., Bonus, K., & Davidson, R. J. (2013). Mindfulness for teachers: A pilot study to assess effects on stress, burnout, and teaching efficacy. Mind, Brain, and Education, 7(3), 182-195.

 4 | Jennings, P. A., & Greenberg, M. T. (2009). The prosocial classroom: Teacher social and emotional competence in relation to student and classroom outcomes. Review of educational research, 79(1), 491-525.

5 |  Goleman, D. (2006). Emotional intelligence. Bantam.

6 |  Miller, S., Herman-Stahl, M., Fishbein, D., Lavery, B., Johnson, M., & Markovits, L. (2014). Use of formative research to develop a yoga curriculum for high-risk youth: Implementation considerations. Advances in School Mental Health Promotion, 7(3), 171-183.

7 |  Creswell, J. D., Way, B. M., Eisenberger, N. I., & Lieberman, M. D. (2007). Neural correlates of dispositional mindfulness during affect labeling. Psychosomatic Medicine, 69, 560– 565.

8 |  Kitamura, Makiko. "Harvard Yoga Scientists Find Proof of Meditation Benefit." Bloomberg Business, 22 Nov. 2013. Web. 20 Mar. 2015. Link.

9 | Gaines, James. “This school replaced detention with meditation. The results are stunning.” UpWorthy. 22, Sept. 2016. Web. Link. http://www.upworthy.com/this-school-replaced-detention-with-meditation-the-results-are-stunning

10 |  Oaklander, Mandy. “Mindfulness May Increase Kids' Math Scores.” Health Research. Time, 26 Jan. 2015. Web. 2 Apr. 2015. Link.

11 |  Yoga Training Guide. “200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification.” Yoga Teacher Training. Yoga Training Guide, 1 Feb. 2011. Web. 02 Apr. 2015. Link.

12 |  Alignyo. “Yoga Teacher Training: 4 Things to Know before You Become a Yoga Teacher.” Alignyo, 22 Oct. 2013. Web. 02 Apr. 2015. Link

13 |  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers.” Education, Training, and Library. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8 Jan. 2014. Web. 02 Apr. 2015. Link.

14 |  US News. "High School Teacher: Salary." Money. US News, 2015. Web. 02 Apr. 2015. Link.

15 |  Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. "Build Adult Capabilities to Improve Child Outcomes: A Theory of Change." Center on Developing Child, 2014. Web. 03 Dec. 2015. Link.